Fining - A tale of two carboys...

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BarrelMonkey

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I'm currently making a white pinot noir, I have 12 gallons in 2 carboys (7 and 5 gal). All seemed to be going well, though there was a slight haze in both carboys so I decided to run a fining trial. A couple of the fining agents seemed to give brighter tasting wine and I decided to go with a relatively low dose of No[Ox] - this is a bentonite-chitosan combination (a winemaker friend gave me a sample size).

The fining agent was prepared according to directions (in one batch) and added to new 7gal/5gal carboys. Both carboys were sanitized in the same manner and wine racked from one container to the other in the same manner (using the same, sanitized pump).

Settling is supposed to take 1-2 weeks, but after 4 days this is what they look like (7 gal on the left):

WPN 20230416.jpg

The 5 gallon vessel is settling out as expected. The glasses in front are samples, you can see that the one on the left (from the 7 gal carboy on the left) is somewhat cloudy. Both, however, taste fine at this stage though the cloudy one does seem to have a bit of a spritz to it. I'm pretty sure these wines are bone dry - fermentation went from 23.0 to -1.6 brix back in October last year.

Any thoughts on what it might be, and next steps? I'm tempted to just wait it out and see if the cloudy one clears but I'm nervous that something else might be going on.
 
Kind of looks like suspended yeast, maybe racking kicked fermentation off again. Plus 4 days is a blink of the eye practically speaking, give it a month
 
I never de-gas (vacuum or stirring), thinking that time will do that for me. Another wine that I made at the same time (blend of pinot noir/chardonnay/viognier) was crystal clear and got bottled yesterday.

But it seems like there is a little life in the other (clear) carboy as well; I checked this morning and it has popped out the little solid bung that I had on there. It does look like yeast, but it doesn't taste yeasty and I don't see clear signs of active fermentation. ML was the other thing that sprang to mind... though I did not inoculate
 
Oh, and this is strictly my opinion here, if it were my wine, I'd have a little more wine and a little less headspace in my aging carboys.
Yes, I would normally have them full up to the neck... and they were like that in the source carboys before racking. But there was a little racking loss after transfer and this was only supposed to be a short-term storage before bottling. But now that it seems like they might take longer to settle, maybe I will top them up. I think I have some suitable wine (in the little green-topped container behind the 5-gal carboy in the picture...)
 
Both, however, taste fine at this stage
That is good news. I gave up on using fining agents as I found they too often stripped out the delicate flavors of the wine I wanted to keep. That is of course only my anecdotal experience.

though the cloudy one does seem to have a bit of a spritz to it. I'm pretty sure these wines are bone dry

Even bone dry wines may not have given off all their CO2. Wine is complicated.

The fining agent may have also bonded some CO2, but that is me just spit wadding. No facts to base this on. Maybe another member here, with more fining experience, can clarify and explain your experience far more correctly than I.
 
Was the wine homogenized into a single batch, then split, or was each carboy kept separate for the fining?

If they were kept separate, it makes more sense, as the batches (obviously) have a difference. You said there is evidence of activity? What is the SG of each?

If homogenized (e.g., both carboys are identical), I have no explanation, other than the fining agent was not as evenly distributed as you believed.
 
Was the wine homogenized into a single batch, then split, or was each carboy kept separate for the fining?
Fermentation was as a single batch, then racked to separate carboys last October.
You said there is evidence of activity? What is the SG of each?
I haven't measured SG lately but at the end of fermentation it was -1.6 brix for the combined batch, I think that's 0.994 SG? Nothing has been added since that would increase SG. The only evidence I have for 'activity' is solid bungs popping off (I have since gone back to airlocks).

I am very confident that the fining agent (made up as a single batch) was homogenous and added proportionally to each vessel. I figure I'll sample tomorrow and test for SO2.
 
@BarrelMonkey, based upon my extensive experience, I judge that Mother Nature is messing with you and she is winning. 🤣

If the SG was 0.994, fermentation is complete. My best guess is the one carboy is still outgassing, so it didn't clear. Gently stir for a minute. Judge "gently" by how large the volcano is -- if you get one, you know it wasn't gentle enough. Then give it a week.
 
I did 5 kits at the same time last November. I vacuum transferred each to carboy, tasted, took SG readings. ALL were at .996-.994 and I topped up with an appropriate bottled wine.

They tend to still have carbonation, and bubbles will sit on the glass. Well, the Pinot Noir took back off. I vacuumed it a couple weeks later and it kept generating more CO2. I measured SG again, and still in the same range.

I messaged @winemaker81 and the consensus was it was weird and made little sense.

I tasted it about 3 weeks ago. It was still a little spritzy... Not that this helps you any, but sometimes it just goes weird... 😄
 
But it seems like there is a little life in the other (clear) carboy as well; I checked this morning and it has popped out the little solid bung that I had on there. It does look like yeast, but it doesn't taste yeasty and I don't see clear signs of active fermentation. ML was the other thing that sprang to mind... though I did not inoculate

My take is that if you don't take preventative measures, MLF is going to happen in time. If you don't want it, than lysozyme and a high level of SO2 are your friends.

But also, the warm up of the spring, often makes my 15 gallon containers overflow a bit. The wine warms up and expands, and overflows the stopper.

MLF is a thing whether you want it or not. You can prevent with lysozyme, and proper sulfite levels, but if you don't actively prevent it, it will happen.
 
My take is that if you don't take preventative measures, MLF is going to happen in time. If you don't want it, than lysozyme and a high level of SO2 are your friends.

But also, the warm up of the spring, often makes my 15 gallon containers overflow a bit. The wine warms up and expands, and overflows the stopper.

MLF is a thing whether you want it or not. You can prevent with lysozyme, and proper sulfite levels, but if you don't actively prevent it, it will happen.
Hmm. Guess I have a little more lab work to do though I will wait until it (hopefully) clears a bit before running a malic/lactic chromatogram...
 
I'm currently making a white pinot noir, I have 12 gallons in 2 carboys (7 and 5 gal). All seemed to be going well, though there was a slight haze in both carboys so I decided to run a fining trial. A couple of the fining agents seemed to give brighter tasting wine and I decided to go with a relatively low dose of No[Ox] - this is a bentonite-chitosan combination (a winemaker friend gave me a sample size).

The fining agent was prepared according to directions (in one batch) and added to new 7gal/5gal carboys. Both carboys were sanitized in the same manner and wine racked from one container to the other in the same manner (using the same, sanitized pump).

Settling is supposed to take 1-2 weeks, but after 4 days this is what they look like (7 gal on the left):

View attachment 100461

The 5 gallon vessel is settling out as expected. The glasses in front are samples, you can see that the one on the left (from the 7 gal carboy on the left) is somewhat cloudy. Both, however, taste fine at this stage though the cloudy one does seem to have a bit of a spritz to it. I'm pretty sure these wines are bone dry - fermentation went from 23.0 to -1.6 brix back in October last year.

Any thoughts on what it might be, and next steps? I'm tempted to just wait it out and see if the cloudy one clears but I'm nervous that something else might be going on.
I’m curious. What is the gallon jug in the back with no airlock doing.
 
I figure I'll sample tomorrow and test for SO2.

The plot thickens... I have been maintaining this wine at around 22ppm FSO2, but haven't tested it since racking into the fining agent. Today it measured 14.5 (5 gal, clear carboy) and 17 (7 gal, cloudy carboy).

I am sure there is no active yeast fermentation at this stage. ML remains a possibility, though I think unlikely given low pH (3.15) and relatively stable FSO2. The cloudy batch may taste a bit creamier, but it's hard (for me) to separate the malic-lactic softness from the mouthfeel of suspended particles in the wine.

I'm thinking of taking the cloudy batch up to 30ppm FSO2 and the other one back to 22ppm.
 
I don't think I need an airlock at this stage. I check in on it occasionally and have never found any sort of pressure build up. I suppose using an airlock wouldn't hurt, though the solid cap seems a bit more secure.
My cellar warmed up a bit recently, and 2 carboys overflowed past the vented bungs. Having 2" of space between the wine and the bung is a good idea. The larger the wine volume, the larger the expansion from just a few degrees increase. I learned to not use solid bungs except with barrrels.
 
My cellar warmed up a bit recently, and 2 carboys overflowed past the vented bungs. Having 2" of space between the wine and the bung is a good idea. The larger the wine volume, the larger the expansion from just a few degrees increase. I learned to not use solid bungs except with barrrels.
You make a good point. I thought I was being clever by buying some tiny bungs that would fit in the larger carboy bungs (in place of the airlock) - but having seen them pop out several times I'm questioning the wisdom of doing this.

I think my smaller 1-gallon jug (noted by @wineview) might be less affected simply due to its smaller volume.
 

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